Monday, 22 November 2010

Quotes | Introduction | Quotes from ‘A Pearl is A Pearl’

However much I play tongue-in-devil-advocate’s-cheek, I think there is a lot to be said for pearls.
Belinda Rutforth, Mythologist

A tree is a tree. Yes, of course. But a tree expressed by Minou Drouet is no longer quite a tree, it is a tree which is decorated, adapted to a certain type of consumption, laden with literary self-indulgence, revolt, images, in short with a type of social usage which is added to pure matter.
Roland Barthes, Mythologist

The opening Rutforth quote, her most famous, comes from an interview she gave to the Times in 1995 after the release of her seminal work A Pearl is a Pearl: The Viral Tendency of Myth Today. It is very possible that her work would have fallen un-dramatically into oblivion were it not for the closing section of the lengthy essay which includes her predictions for the future of the internet – what she refers to as the ‘potential network’. It is important to remember that at the time, the internet was very much at an embryonic stage – it was up and running as a network of communication, but with only 35 million users around the world it had yet to become the social superpower it is today. Astonishing then that Rutforth would spell out Facebook: 'Within five years the world will be connected as a single network. Privatized platforms will arise to facilitate a virtual society'. Never heard Zuckerberg credit Rutforth – nor Fincher for that matter, although she was a little out on the timeframe. She also describes YouTube thus: 'The barriers and dams of conventional media will not be worth mending with the unrestricted sharing of data – the world will publish'.

Like Oscar Wilde, I believe Rutforth has been remembered in the wrong way. Her prophesies are strangely accurate, however her oft-forgotten theory that the internet 'is a forum of expression' is where the social consciousness of ‘myth’ (See opening Barthes quote) is most accurately projected. And as she suggests, 'the difficulty is extrapolating it as a single image.'

Only in her conclusion does Rutforth express an Achilles heel of the world wide web – what she calls a  'crisis of legitimacy' – when 'the self will become avatar.'

Virtually, the potential for the internet to actually hold ‘universal truth’ is always going to be questionable.

James Harringman
'The internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.' Oscar Wilde

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